Israelis sue Airbnb after it drops West Bank listings

Israeli lawyers have launched a class action suit against Airbnb, after the accommodation website pulled listings for settler homes in the occupied West Bank.

They're asking for about NZ$6000 in damages for each of the 200 homes removed from the platform, reports AFP.

Airbnb removed the listings on Monday.

"We know that people will disagree with this decision and appreciate their perspective. This is a controversial issue," it said in a statement supplied to Reuters.

Israel's settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal by the UN, because under the Geneva Conventions, forces are not allowed to settle civilians in occupied territories.

Israel doesn't consider the territory occupied, saying it was never part of any Palestinian state. Instead it calls the region "disputed". The International Court of Justice dismissed this view.

Israel's tourism ministry is reportedly also considering legal action.

The lawyers behind the suit accused Airbnb of hypocrisy.

"China's control of Tibet has been condemned worldwide, and yet Airbnb offers 300 apartments for rent there," the lawsuit says, according to AFP.

"In northern Cyprus, where control is deeply disputed between Greece and Turkey and has even led to war, Airbnb offers thousands of rental apartments."

The suit also mentions places for hire in Georgia's separatist republic of Abkhazia and a region at the centre of a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"Airbnb has no policy regarding conflict zones around the world. It has a policy regarding (Israeli) settlements, and only to them."

Airbnb listings for homes in the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem remain online.

Israeli law lets courts to award compensation people who prove they have been denied goods or services because they live in disputed - or occupied - territories.


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